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Arbitrary, betrayal — officers outrage over Modi govt move to merge railway services

Modi govt has decided to combine all 8 railway services into a single Indian Railways Management Service, leading to an uproar from 3 of the services.

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New Delhi: A day after the Narendra Modi government approved the merger of eight existing rail services into a single Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS), officers from three of the old services have taken to social media, calling the decision arbitrary, unfair and demotivating.

At the heart of the resentment among officers is the structural division of the Indian Railway Service. While three services — Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) — constitute the railway’s civil services, the other five constitute the technical or engineering services.

In a statement released Tuesday, the government said: “This will end the culture of working in ‘silos’ and mark the beginning of a new and unified railway with a coherent vision for the future.”

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters that the reform would end departmentalism in the railway sector, encourage comprehensive and smooth working and expedite decision making.

Social media campaign

The unification has instead led to an aggressive social media campaign by officers from the first three services, who believe their “civil service dream” has been shattered by the government in one stroke.

“We come through two different exams. As civil servants, we compete with the brightest minds in the country, and after several years of persistence, crack the UPSC exam,” said a young IRAS officer. “How can we suddenly be clubbed with any other service which is not that coveted? Tomorrow, IAS will be clubbed with the Indian Stenographer Service or something… Is that fair?”

While exams for all the eight services are conducted by the UPSC, there is a separate exam for the engineering services, which is not considered to be as prestigious and competitive as the civil service exam.

“There was logic for the specialisation,” said a senior IRTS officer. “If someone is a civil engineer and has joined the civil engineering service, and received training for that all their life, how can you suddenly put them in a managerial role?”

The officer added, “On one hand, you talk about domain expertise, and on the other, you are killing it wherever it exists.”

The IRTS officer said the sense of disillusionment among the officers could impact the efficiency of the Railways, and even compromise safety going ahead.

“It is a complete lie that there was any consultation,” the officer added. “By taking this decision arbitrarily, the government has violated the immunity civil servants have from political interference.”

Also read: Cabinet approves Railways reform — okays single cadre to pave way for major overhaul

A technical and a non-technical service

On social media, where the hashtag #NoToIRMS has been trending, officers suggested that the government should instead have two services — technical and non-technical.

“As civil servants, we keep a check on the functioning of the railways, and expose the technical and financial excesses or flaws in the sector,” said the IRAS officer quoted above. “At best, you could have created two services, one managerial and another technical.”

There is also the issue of age. While the average age of those who come through the civil service exam is 27-28, that of the engineering service officers is 23-24.

“The engineering service officers join right after engineering, so they are young. If they get to head departments now, they will have more time in service, and the civil services will lose out,” the officer said.

“There is a lot of resentment among officers on this decision. This is a betrayal to the brightest minds of the country who join the civil service,” the IRAS officer added.

Also read: After complaints from employees, Tejas Express crew get salary hike and weekly-off


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  1. Good good !. Reforms are must for a country like India.
    Indian bureaucrats and potential aspirants are still under a feudal and petty mindset. The twitter comments of the young bureaucrats and their reasoning behind their logic are stupid. Always complaining about rank or status from cradle to grave. India will remain a third world shit hole because of such an attitude. Its time to change. India needs a better bureaucracy that has the vision to rise above petty comparisons of ranks in competitive exams /cadre allocation/illogical comparison.

  2. Right step for better management. What is required at the higher level is only the managerial skill rather than technical skill.My heartfelt appreciations for taking a right decision at the appropriate time.

  3. Indian railways has unique and has well oiled system. I don’t understand why should there be merger, each of the services are specialized for example IRAS is different from IRTS, the, role of irps is different from IRSEE. Similarly the role of irsme is different from irss.
    I think the decision is regressive.
    A surgeon can not play the role of cardiologist at functional level, may be at HAG level possible

  4. In Indian Railways there is another 20 services in addition to 8 services which our govt in merging. Why they left out from this excercise. The prime Moto of merging the services will never be fulfilled if thete is one main cadre and 20 other services.

    Minister to please do the remedy

    • Always step motherly treatment is given to unorganised cadre officers while they are doing speclised jobs in Railways

      Time has give them equivalent status

  5. They should have conducted trails by merging IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS etc. All are managerial posts. Every where spreading takes place in order to have effective control. General phisian to nucleolus oncologist similarly Railways also over years.

  6. Bureaucracy thought to supreme in British Indian sense of Ruling as all Britishers were bureaucrats then….
    After indipandence it was carried as was a gift of the Queen,…this spread like Cancers in India.
    Go any department due to this powergame they unite to run Govt,sometimes even prime minister’s good decisions were turned down by these group of powerful Indians.
    India which must had to be run according to Netaji Subhash Bose’s way was literally ruin for last 70 years.
    Now bureaucracy thinks they are on carrier loss,many problems…bla bla bla…
    They earn maximum from govt and govt schemes both ways..but they never think about their workers ,their lives,
    In indian railways they snatched every benefit from workers..even workers need to take care of their families,quarters where they live , medical facilities from private source while these officers gets utmost pampers from railways.
    Eventually if proper study is conducted it will be clear how big amount railway spends on them and how much they give in return,in compare to a lower ranked railway employee.
    This is unfortunate truth that discremenation is all over.
    Hopefully this Govt might bring change to this cancerous mindset which is going to be dangerous for all in India.
    Stop pampering only bureaucrats

  7. The egoist statement made by some of the officer of being coming from civil service shows elitist and self serving attitude which in commercial organization no needed.
    See any Public sector commercial, personal and account people are few and they remain under control of executive.
    The mind set that civil service vis a vis engineering service civil service superiority is myth. Please work for country railway is one of the lowest efficient organization.

    • Exactly. None of the IAS candidates are nearly bright as they seem to claim or they’d have taken up sciences instead of doing arts & history before coming to the IAS cadre. Incompetent, arrogant, elitist fools. ‘bright in the country’ my ar*e.

  8. For Mr Modi and his team, the words “change” and “confusion” are synonyms. “More confusion” is interpreted as “radical change”. Talking out of your hat is supposed to mean thinking outside the box.
    I have said on many occasions, in different contexts, that we are living through very dark times. Absolutely anything can happen to our country as long as Modi-Shah are in power.

  9. Any organisation there is resistance to change. The bloated bureaucracy has been reduced and obviously there is a backlash. After all Indian Railways have a long way to go to meet people’s expectations. Any reorganisation is for the better.

  10. I would go to the other argument. Why should a technical organisation need non-technical people. Technical people can do pretty much everything. After all, those who get STEM are more intelligent than the other.

  11. The level of ego in these statements is flabbergasting! A society in which the bureaucrats think they are superior to hard sciences is bound to remain on the bottom rungs in technology. The current state of India as a laggard in technology makes more sense when you listen to the deep feelings of the bureaucracy.

  12. The thought struck me that there are shades of the Air India – Indian Airlines merger here. Cultural differences between the two sets of employees contributed to its failure. Systems that have been created / modified over a very long period of time are being disrupted, sometimes virtually overnight. One tends to be sceptical because we have observed a certain lack of forethought in some of the most consequential decisions.

  13. I agree with you. These officers through Civil Services used to think themselves as IAS of IR. As IAS are playing with future of country , in a similar way these people were eating into Railway.

    • Whatever is good for the Railways,Public and the country should be implemented.Private interests of few individuals ,even if they happen to be civil servants are absolutely subordinated to the larger public interests.
      A public servant serves at the pleasure of the President and not under any sovereign guarantee .However,as a matter of Natural justice and abundant caution,government must allow golden handshake exit options as it is not alright to retain a worker who is disgruntled and dissatisfied.
      There appears to be an overt perception among civil service stream officers of being IAS of Railways.
      The young officers must avoid such self denigrating perspective.
      Firstly it is not the service or the stream through which a person enters the Railways but the service rendered by the person to the Railways which matters.
      An officer should be proud of whatever service or stream through which he or she has entered the organisation.
      The second aspect is psychological and shapes an officer’s character and personality.
      Crudely put,Just because few Auto-Rickshaws have arrived along with cargo of Innova cars do not entitle them to be considered at par with Innova cars.
      Among IAS,an officer should strive to be best and similarly an IRTS must feel proud of being an IRTS and the same stands good for an IRAS or an IRPS and for that matter any other service officer.
      An Auto-Rickshaw claiming to be an Innova by putting a label of Innova or mimicking an Innova will end up being a caricature because, label apart,it is the content that speaks.One cannot fool the public for long.
      In a nut shell,be what you are instead of being a caricature of what you are not.
      Finally ,be prepared to earn your daily bread.The cheese is moving out of the cushy government jobs.Your PM is working 16 hours a day ,365 days an year.His cabinet colleagues work equally hard to get another term of five years.A single performance under extremely controlled examination hall conditions will no more guarantee life long luxury.Perform,keep on performing,acquire new skills work hard.This is the time when being obsolete means being out of job.So,be strong,have confidence,stay relevant.Welcome to the brave new VUCA World !!

  14. Its your distorted perception and halo affect based on generalisation. Did you even know that Railway officers work 24x 7 and 365 days without any complaint. Every Saturday sunday or on holidays trains run , there is no shift for officers , same set of officers work.

    • There are lots of other privileges enjoyed in return.
      No in/out time at office.
      Spending family vacation while on duty and extending the stay more than required.
      Managing “on duty leave” to a location wherever the officers want to go, and claim TA which is a burden on the Govt.
      Using cars for material management for personal use and use of the family.
      24X7 on duty from home, by duty railway officers mean passing responsibility to supervisors and asking for updates through phone.
      Incompetent to take right decision during urgency, and depend on supervisors to take decision, only to present those supersvisors with a charge sheet when that decision is proved wrong. And if that decision was good, all credits, better APAR evaluation,promotion to the officers only.

      So many facilities are given without any question and you fools say that you stay on duty 24X7. This is just misuse of authority.

  15. While clubbing so it would help to organize Indian railways in a comprehensive manner. Needless to raise the issue of civil services here because Indian railways doesn’t require civil servants in their huge organization. Technical and non technical could be oriented in a better manner.

  16. This is the problem with bureaucracy in India. People work hard crack the UPSC exam and their egos become larger than the service to the people. Instead of using their success to do something good, then they live in the afterglow of that one success for the rest of their lives.

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